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Elise Manion

Author of Contemporary Romantic Fiction

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healthcare

Summer Ended Before It Began (Part 2)

…Continued from previous post

THE DIAGNOSIS AND GETTING HOME

With no other choice, we went to the nearest Emergency Room.

Again, getting out of the car and into a wheelchair was something embarrassing, frustrating and painful but we managed. After checking in, they moved me to an ER bay and we waited. Like all emergency rooms, they were busy and did the best they could. Over the course of six hours they took my vitals, asked me what happened, offered me pain meds which I declined because I didn’t want to fall asleep there. They brought in a mobile x-ray machine and took pictures of both ankles. The ER doctor interpreted them and diagnosed the left ankle as having two broken bones— the posterior and medial malleoli) but he was also afraid that I’d broken the weight bearing bone in my right ankle so he ordered a CT scan. He was unable to get the on-call orthopedic surgeon to read it so he had to make his best guess. Afraid that he’d have to admit me if I could not bear weight on it, he took his time and determined I’d only chipped the bone (we learned a week later there was nothing broken in the right ankle, just a severe sprain). He ordered that they put my right ankle in a very heavy walking boot and my left ankle splinted.

The nurse again offered me some pain management. This time I said I’d take one. The doctor wrote a prescription for hydrocodone but the hospital wouldn’t fill it that night. New laws or something.

58432415513__1517D59C-A2FF-4F42-B648-D019981A51C1The splinting process, in a word— sucked. My ankle and foot had to be manipulated into a ninety degree position so as not to weaken the tendons in my leg and foot. My leg, ankle and foot were wrapped in a type of bunting material before the two splints were placed. I don’t know the name of these nightmarish strips but they hardened into sharp-edges that I later hated and wanted removed. They dug into my swollen leg at weird spots and the bunting was something Ginger wanted to eat if she could get her teeth on it.

Now here’s the funny part…

The nurse brought me crutches.

Let that sink in for a moment. I have a leg in a haphazard splint, I’m in shock, in pain, and my “good” foot is in a giant walking boot, swollen and hurting. I also learned that evening that my upper body strength was sad and needed work.

I gave it the ol’ college try and the result was as I feared. I almost face-planted right there in the ER bay. After three or four tries I told Tom to grab a chair so I could sit down and cry some more. Finally, the nurse said, “I have an idea but you aren’t going to like it. I’ll be right back.” She was gone about five minutes and returned bearing a packaged walker. “I know it looks terrible but it may give you better stability.”

I glared at her because she thought I was too vain to use it! “Give me the walker.” I found I could at least hop/shuffle a few feet without falling on my butt before getting tired. By now it was 1:20 am and I was exhausted. The nurse finally said, “Why don’t we put you in a wheelchair for the rest of ride outside.”

Again, shuffling into the car was difficult but the boot eased the pain a bit in my right foot. My husband wanted to know if he should stop to fill the prescription for pain meds and I said no. I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

My mother had been dog sitting while we were at the emergency room and Tom had called her every time we got an update on the situation. As we drove home I started worrying about how I was going to get into my house. We live in a one story (THANK GOD) but there are two steps into the house. How was I going to navigate those steps with the walker? With a splinted left leg and a sprained ankle and walking boot? I was already unsteady from the evening’s trauma and I worried I’d hurt myself just getting into the damn house.

I ended up turning myself around and sitting on the floor inside the door from the garage. Getting up was something special, and not graceful at all. The noise from the dogs was almost worse but eventually I crawled into a dining room chair by leveraging my elbows on the seat and pushing with my right foot. Once I was seated, I was able to stand into the walker.

The next obstacle was getting though the baby gate we’d just installed to keep the puppy out of the living room. It divided our house in half. The puppy, at that time weighed about 28 lbs. (She’s over thirty now.) She’s a mixed breed baby of Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Labrador and Boxer. She’s young, excitable and not well-trained. I was so upset I hurt myself and all I could think about was how I’d planned on spending the summer months training her before I went back to my part-time job at the high school (in northern Nevada, we only get 8 weeks off for summer-mid June, July and return the beginning of August). As I stared at the gate and the dog in question I realized all my plans had come crumbling down. I wouldn’t be able to do anything with her.

The walker, of course, didn’t quite fit through the gate and had to be lifted over but I negotiated it without too much drama. Now I had to figure out how to go to the bathroom, change my clothes and get into bed. I’d taken the one hydrocodone the hospital gave me on departure and it was starting to take effect, lessoning the pain in both my ankles.

As I stood in the water closet of the master bathroom, I stared at my husband with tears pouring down my face. “Never in my life did I think you’d have to take me to the bathroom. I’m so sorry.”

He said, “Honey, it is what it is. I love you and it’s okay.”

Scandalized and embarrassed, I went pee and wondered how I was going to stand up. The walker wasn’t meant to be hopped or propped on. It’s meant to stabilize unsteady walkers with two good feet. He had to hold the walker in place while I tried to use what little upper body strength I had to stand up on my booted right ankle.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun. But eventually I was standing again. The next hurdle was getting out of my clothes and into my pajamas. In the mean time, my mother had left to get a walker that had a seat. The thought behind that was if I got tired and needed to sit down, I could.

So while my husband helped me change my clothes and put me to bed, my mother drove to Walmart to buy a different walker at two o’clock in the morning.

My husband and mother stayed up to put the new walker together and neither went to bed until almost 4am.

In the meantime, I lay on my back, with my left ankle elevated on a pillow, praying Ginger didn’t jostle me too much and trying to stay in a position where my ankle didn’t scream in pain.

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Summer Ended Before It Began (Part 1)

EEuyu3DDRQGc9ldMfu1SrQTHE INJURY

In July, my husband and I were walking our dogs, a 14-year-old dachshund and a 5-month-old mix breed. Ginger, the pup, had just finished her vaccination series and I wanted to get her leash trained. This was to be her first “walk.” 

We live in a neighborhood with a home owner’s association. The Association is responsible for the strip of grass and trees that line the streets between the pavement and the sidewalk. We got half a block from our home when Tom and I chuckled at Frankie (the 14-year-old) trying to keep up with Ginger. 

I’d let the lead out so she could sniff the grass and other things. I remember being surprised at how well she was doing, just happy to be out of our house and exploring the world. 

I’d veered into the association grass to let her sniff. Tom, my husband, and Frank were taking up the sidewalk but yet I was right next to them. 

I took a step with my right foot—expecting it to meet the earth like every other step I’d taken since leaving the house. Instead, the ground dropped through the grass and my right foot met the bottom of a deep hole, twisting my ankle on the way down. Immediately I felt pain in my right ankle, knowing instinctively that I’d injured myself. However, as I stumbled, my left foot came down to correct myself only to also lose the ground and catch the other side of the hole hidden in the grass. 

This time when my ankle bent, I felt—and heard—two horrible pops that shouldn’t have issued from that part of my body. 

Down I went, face first, into the grass. 

Pain and swelling didn’t wait to take over. 

There I lay,(lie? I can never remember which is correct) assessing the situation, and found nothing good. My right ankle hurt but my left ankle screamed. 

Puppy and old dog were concerned (well, Ginger thought it was a game) and my husband was at a complete loss. “Get up, I think you’re okay. It’s just a sprain.” He hadn’t seen my left ankle yet. 

I think I went into shock. At 51-years-old, I’d never broken a bone before, but I knew—I KNEW— I’d broken something in my left leg and I began to cry. “I can’t. I can’t get up.” 

Just turning over from my stomach to my rump was excruciating. My husband, who I love and trust, bore a look of disbelief on his face. “Babe, I think it’s just sprained. It’s going to hurt but you have to get up.”

“I can’t,” was all I could say. 

At this point, Tom had a dilemma; we had two dogs freaking out and I was on the ground. “I can’t leave you here alone.”

“Yes, you can. You have to. Take the dogs back and get the car. The house is just around the corner. I’ll be okay here.”

Reluctantly, he knew it was our only choice. I asked him to remember to grab my purse but he hadn’t heard me. I remember staring at my swelling feet and ankles and thinking, “Why?” There was a car at the cluster mailboxes, its occupants getting their mail, and other couple walking down the street, taking the walk my husband and I should’ve been taking on a warm summer evening. 

He brought the car immediately and whipped around so that the passenger side was open to me. Unfortunately, the next dilemma presented itself. I couldn’t even stand up. My wonderful husband, crouched down and said, “Put your arms around my neck.”

“Babe, you can’t dead lift me. I’m too heavy.” Unwittingly, I’d insulted him.

He was still crouched next to me, getting frustrated. “I work out and you don’t know how much I can lift. You can’t just sit here.” 

“I know, I know.” Frustrated, angry and in pain, I crawled to the curb and reached for the bottom of the open door. There was just no way I was going to risk my husband blowing out his back, or herniating something that shouldn’t be herniated, trying to pick me up. I knew the only way to get in the car was to put weight on my right ankle—which let its grievance be known by shooting pain right up my leg—but I managed to get my ass into the car.

I asked for my purse, which contained all our insurance information, bit was still at home. He flipped a u-ee and went back again. I had my cell so while he was inside I pulled up the nearest urgent care that did imaging. They closed at 7:00 pm. The clock on my phone read 6:57pm.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Keto Me

DISCLAIMER: This article is about me and my own results. I am not a doctor, nor a licensed health-care professional. Eating Keto is a personal preference.

Last spring I changed doctors. If you’ve read my previous posts about my dad, you’ll understand why I switched…. we shared the same primary care physician; you know, the one who said his cough was related to something called The Hundred Day cough, when really it was lung cancer. <insert a sarcastic eyeroll here>

But I digress.

When I established with my new doc, she printed out a lab slip and off I went to get my blood drawn. My results came back with a resting glucose of 107. Anything under 100 is considered normal, and I’d never had high glucose before. Unfortunately, type-2 diabetes runs on my father’s side of the family and I’m of an age when these things begin to show up. To say I freaked is putting it mildly. And so the research began because I was not going down the Metformin road, or any other prescription drug with hideous side effects, like chronic diarrhea. NO. WAY. Don’t believe me? Talk to someone taking that stuff, or you can just listen to all the hideous side effects listed in the commercials.

Image 10-27-18 at 4.51 PMAnd so began the research. I found a ton of sites dedicated to regulating blood sugar with proper diet, exercise, and prescription medicine, but there were also sites talking about disease as being diet related and that most of these “diseases” could be treated just by eating right. Things like cancer, autism, asthma, and diabetes. Then I found a Netflix documentary called The Magic Pill.  It blamed the standard America diet (S.A.D. – how apropos) on the increased amount of dietary diseases over the past century, linking the amount of carbohydrates vs protein vs fats indicated in the pyramid to chronic inflammatory disease. One segment even studied the effects of a ketogenic diet on middle aged people with type-2 diabetes. It was an eye opener. Actually, the whole documentary overflowed with data from not only the United States, but Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Europe, going back over the past century.

Eating Keto means we get our fuel from good, healthy fats instead of refined sugars and grains, i.e. carbohydrates. In my case, I also eliminated all processed foods, and added non-GMO and organic foods. That means that I don’t eat bread, corn chips, potato chips, Cheetos (oh man, this was a hard one because I was eating a small bag everyday at work!), fruits, potatoes and starchy veggies etc. And absolutely no sugar. None. Not even honey. I was motivated because I did not want type-2 diabetes.

I began eating this way at the end of May, so I’m working on 24 weeks now. Since then I’ve dropped almost twenty pounds, my head feels clear, and I haven’t been sick. However, I’ve been craving things like fried rice, or a fully loaded baked potato. Then, again, it’s football season and the need to eat nachos and chicken wings, along with other bar food is right in my face! What I think is strange, though, is that I don’t crave bread. The only time I want a cracker is when I want to put something yummy on it like brie.

These cravings occurred right before my follow-up appointment. My doctor congratulated me on the weight loss, lectured me that while Keto is great for initial weight loss, there’s really no scientific evidence that eating this way can be sustainable. She recommended that I begin adding back into my diet healthy grains and fruits. I immediately bought some grapes! Yay! I also had my blood drawn. Before I get to how I feel adding back some carbs, here are the results from my blood test, which I thought were interesting according to this brief explanation of cholesterol on WebMD.

  • Total Cholesterol: April 143, October 132
  • Triglycerides: April 115, October 53
  • VLDL: April 23, October 11
  • LDL: April 67, October 61
  • HDL: April 53, October 60
  • Fasting Glucose: April 107, October 99
  • A1C: This test wasn’t given in April but my October number is 5.0. The normal range is 4.8 – 5.6 so I’m right where I should be. Thank Goodness!

What blew me away were the Triglycerides! Triglycerides are the amounts of fats traveling in the bloodstream. Keep in mind with a Keto diet, 70-80% of my diet consists of healthy FAT, such as avocados, unrefined coconut oil in my coffee or tea, whole milk, Avocado oil in my salad, or on my keto friendly “sandwiches” which are meat and veggies wrapped in provolone–what a yummy lunch; and healthy seeds and nuts. I want to stress that I didn’t always stick to it. On Sundays during the summer, My Man and I like to go to the movies and there is no way I can watch a movie without popcorn and all that wonderful butter! Even with about four cheat days a month, my numbers are great!

Naturally I wanted to celebrate by … EATING SOME CARBS! I took a small snack of grapes to work, and My Man brought home some Mexican food. As of this writing, my guts are NOT. HAPPY.  I didn’t overdo it on either the grapes or the delicious dinner. Most of my meal consisted of the carne asada, with a few bites of refried beans and rice. We shared it. However, the icky gut feeling began with the grapes! I don’t know what it means, but I do know that I have to be very careful when reintroducing healthy carbs.

For now, my cravings have stopped. I will re-introduce natural carbs, like potatoes and apples at a slow pace, maybe two days a week and see how my guts feel. Otherwise, I’m sticking with Keto. As I progress, I’ll keep you updated.

If you have any insights into Keto, type-2 diabetes, or healthy eating in general, please give me a shout out in the comments.

 

The Cancer Won; Healthcare Failed

In a previous post, I wrote about my father’s diagnosis of metastatic melanoma to the lungs and liver. At that time it wasn’t known that the nodules had also spread to his brain. Though he fought the good fight, my father succumbed to this horrific disease on March 20th, just two weeks to the day after receiving word from his oncologist that the nodules in his lungs had grown significantly and that the treatment (immunotherapy) wasn’t working. The oncologist recommended hospice for the next month or two. Dad was sixty-eight when he passed away.

Melanoma is a sneaky bitch. In my father’s case, he developed a brownish spot on his cheek ten years ago. It wasn’t dark and we all thought it was just an age spot, even his general practitioner. He said he had a treatment that would “bleach” the spot so it wouldn’t be noticeable. It was an in-office procedure and the spot scabbed up and went away for a few months before returning a hideous dark brown to black. The doctor said nothing.

When Dad went to the dermatologist, it was found to be melanoma and they did surgery to remove it. He was left with a huge “z” shape scar but it healed so well that after a month or so the scar was barely visible. When they removed the section, it was determined that the cancer was “lateral” and that it had not spread. He would be fine.

That was three years ago.

Last year, my father developed a cough; a nagging, nonproductive tickle that was so bad that he would lose his breath. He had other symptoms, too, like shortness of breath and becoming exhausted after minimal exertion. He told his general practitioner, who told Dad not to worry, that he was only suffering from “the hundred day cough.” Then my father told his cardiologist, who monitored him for a possible heart condition, other than his high blood pressure and AFIB (irregular heartbeat). Still the cough persisted, but the cardiologist found nothing unusual otherwise.  Dad then told his otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat doctor) and was told it was probably allergies. In the mean time, he kept up his regular appointments with his dermatologist who proceeded to burn off any skin lesions or irregular spots that were found on his body, but the dermatologist said nothing about his cough.

No one thought to order a chest x-ray until eight months later. Hello? HE HAD A COUGH.  Shouldn’t that have been the first thing to order, especially with his history of melanoma?

Needless to say,  my faith in the medical profession is greatly shaken.  I am beyond angry that my father lost his life because this wasn’t detected a year ago. I am frustrated that no forewarnings, no scans, no check-ups were advised after the initial lesion was removed from his face. I’m heartbroken that he wasn’t given any information about melanoma; no brochures, no literature, no anything. No talk about metastasizing lesions or survival rates by stage.

None of us saw this coming because we were told they “got it all.” Had my father been given some basic information about melanoma instead of just a pat on the back and shown the door, maybe, JUST MAYBE, he’d be sitting next to me right now helping me blog something different, like good treatment options, diet, sun protection, CBDs, etc. But no advice was given. He was just sent on his way.

Through the course of his short illness, there were roadblocks left and right in treatment and in the way insurance handled billing. He was even denied cough syrup! Ironically, once he was on hospice, the cough syrup was covered. Nothing made sense.

I have a lot of questions, lots of thoughts going through my mind but trying to remain objective is difficult because Dad is in Heaven now. Though I know that he is no longer in pain, and in a much better place, Mom and I are still missing him greatly. I can’t help but think that the gaping hole in our lives left by my father’s death could’ve been avoided if only ONE of his physicians had taken him seriously and looked at his chest last April.

My advice to anyone diagnosed with this heinous form of cancer is to make your doctors listen to you. Don’t let them sweep your symptoms under a rug or offer antiquated diagnoses like “the hundred day cough.” Make them do their job.

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